MUZAFFARABAD: After the police reportedly detained as many as 70 activists in a bid to prevent a ‘long march’ announced by the Jammu Kashmir Joint Awami Action Committee to press the government to comply with an agreement reached between the two in Feb this year, the committee spearheading the movement has announced a “shutter-down and wheel-jam” strike across the region today (Friday).

The public action committee has been leading a rights movement to protest ‘unjust’ taxes levied on electricity bills and observed a shutter-down strike for the same reason in Aug last year.

The movement demands that electricity should be provided to consumers in accordance with the production cost of hydel power in AJK. Following months-long protests, a ministerial committee had pledged that the cost would be worked out “because the government was committed to providing relief to its people”.

Last month, the committee had announced that they would march on Muzaffarabad on May 11 to protest the “non-fulfilment of the commitments” made in writing by an official reconciliation committee of cabinet members on December 23, 2023, in pursuance of which a notification was also issued on February 4, 2024.

Minister says 70 detained; traders clash with police in Dadyal tehsil

In the early hours of Thursday, the police in Muzaffarabad conducted raids at the residence of Shaukat Nawaz Mir, the elected leader of traders, and several other members of the action committee. In these raids, eight committee members, including two student leaders, were detained.

In Mirpur’s Dadyal tehsil, the protests of over a dozen activists in overnight raids provoked clashes after traders held a protest at Maqbool Butt Shaheed Chowk. The teargas shells lobbed by the police also landed in a school and deteriorated the condition of several girls. The police were pelted with stones by the traders. In response to the crackdown, Nawaz Mir issued a video message from a hideout, saying that owing to the “brutal attitude” of the authorities in Dadyal, the protest for May 11 had been shifted to May 10 (today).

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2024

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